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Seek-Shape-Send: Community Church offers safe rides home

Community Church Oxford is taking its mission to the Square every Thursday as part of their free ride program, which provides those in need with a safe way to get home and avoid drinking and driving.

Every Thursday night during the fall semester, vans driven by Community Church members can be found along East Jackson Avenue with signs advertising for free rides. For lead pastor Fish Robinson, the chance to minister to the community in this way isn’t simply a project; it’s an opportunity to live out the church’s mission, Seek-Shape-Send.

“There’s somewhere around 22,000 students at Ole Miss and you’d be hard pressed to find 1500-2000 of them at any kind of a church on the weekend,” Robinson said. “We see this as an opportunity to meet the students where they are, provide a need and love on them.”

The free ride ministry has been going on for four-and-a-half years, and during that time, Robinson said they’d given between 6,000 and 7,000 people a ride home. This past week alone, the group gave approximately 50 rides.

While a nightlife atmosphere might seem an unlikely fit for a church congregation, Robinson said that’s exactly the point. College students make up the majority of the crowd at the Square, he said, and church members were excited for the opportunity to be part of the ministry.

“Jesus meets all of us where we are. Unfortunately, we live in a time where the church is more known for what it’s against than what it’s for,” he said. “(Jesus) went to where the people were. In Oxford on Thursday night, the students are on the square. Because this is a college town, we see students as an opportunity, not a problem. They’re people just like us.”

Robinson said for safety reasons, they always make sure to have a male and a female riding in the van, and no one will ever be charged for a ride.

In fact, he said, there will never be a “catch” when it comes to Community Church’s free ride program.

“Many people walk past thinking there must be a catch. They see that it’s sponsored by a church and they’re hesitant to get in the van,” Robinson said. “They’re so accustomed to the church having an agenda. Our only agenda is to get these kids home safely while keeping the community safe, too.”

Those interested in volunteering can call the church office at (662) 380-5014.